Song & Surf: A Cultural Discovery

WORDS: Kalisi Luv

PHOTOGRAPHY: Kora aka Roco Newson

I didn’t know what to expect from my first Song & Surf festival the 2017 B.C. Family Day Long Weekend. I’ve been to many Tall Tree Music Festival and assumed the vibe and music would be somewhat similar because Song & Surf is run by the same team. However, I was pleasantly surprised to both observe and participate in what I can only describe as ‘pure west coast lifestyle.’ Although I saw many of the same faces that I would at the summertime festival, Song & Surf’s musical taste was geared more towards live bands serenading swaying audience members than loud bass music energizing dancers until sunrise. In fact, Song & Surf was more about sunsets than sunrises. The following is my personal take on the culture of Song & Surf Music Festival, be sure to let me know if you dare to disagree.




Take me to church. The church housed tunes of a more placid nature or at least they seemed to sooth a restful audience strewn across the floor like cats in a sunroom. The ambiance of this cozy chapel was the perfect musical sanctuary to warm chilly festival attendees. 


An eclectic land of discovery. Who knew one person could play the cymbal, cowbell, tambourine and drum all at the same time? I certainly didn’t until Saturday when Brigitte Desjardins accompanied Ryan McNally at Big Fish Lodge. Tonye was another crowd pleaser with her hilarious one-liners, “Hey, what’s up soon-to-be ex-boyfriend?” and the gradual addition to her band–a band that started off with two people and ended up with five. The Song & Surf night venue also housed local electronic artists like Xavier and Neon Steve to bands from across the pond like JPNSGRLS and the reggae sounds of Caleb Hart. No matter what time of day, or what venue you chose as your abode, you were bound to hear a diversity of acoustics and soul-chilling melodies.



Beliefs and Rituals

Giving is better than receiving. A roadside lemonade stand enticed festival participants and locals to provide either 5 cents or a trade for some *special lemonade which reminded me that providing a joke on the spot is a lot harder than it seems. Additionally, compliments are given out like goody bags at a birthday party. For example, I overheard one gentleman say to the other: “Do you take medicine for that handsomeness? I sure hope it’s not expensive!” What a guy.


Spontaneous singalongs. The beach seemed to be the best place for this to occur, although walking between day venues I did hear a few drunken songbirds croon. Everything from birthday wishes to “New Orleans is Sinking”, Big Fish Lodge’s beachfront was an abundance of ballads.


Rekindled friendships. All around me I could see friends with arms around each other’s shoulders, swaying to the tunes or looking out over the ocean. I even heard one friend spout: “Where have I been!? I should have been here!!” after they appeared from, what seemed like, thin air and ran into the open arms of his comrades.



No matter age or gender, the fashion was pretty much the same for everyone: ponchos, layered over Cowichan sweaters, leopard print fur jackets or denim vests, finished with Blundstone boots and always topped off with a toque or wide-brimmed hat.


Food & Drink

The Apple Box and @Freshcoast: Unlike my party friends I was not collecting extra calories from drinking alcohol so instead I indulged in a delicious chocolate cake from The Apple Box topped with frozen yogurt from Freshcoast and boy was I impressed! I ended up running around the lodge with mixed spoonfuls of both, satiating hungry dancers while gratifying my own sweet tooth.  

Happy Camper Coffee: This was a favourite place for extra energy during the long, festive nights as many nourished their need for stimulus to keep their bodies moving until the wee hours of the morning.


Driftwood Donuts: Hands down my most treasured manifestation of Song & Surf. Hours before discovering this gem I was perched atop a shipwrecked log in front of the Lodge with my friend Daniel as I shared my dream of locating some mouth-watering mini-donuts. Alas, there were none attached to the venue, yet on our walk back to our school-bus limo I found Daniel, white bag in hand, knowing exactly what was inside. And would you know? There was a mini donut shop erected right in front of our bus. Magic I say!


Alcoholic Bevvies: For those who were looking for an extra pep in their step, Phillips provided thirsty customers with ”Bottle Rocket ISA, Blue Buck Ale, Citricity Grapefruit IPA and their Pilsner. Additionally, the bar served up some Tod Creek Cider which they specially branded for Tall Tree and Song & Surf,” said Oriane, superstar bartendress.


Song & Surf IS West Coast Culture at its finest, don’t believe me? Check it out next year and see for yourself. When nature puts on a show, you’ve got to come watch. Until then, get ready for the 2017 Tall Tree Music Festival coming at you this June 23rd to 26th!
❤ Kalisi Luv #SpreadingTheLuv


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